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Felicity Buirski | Repairs & Alterations

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Repairs & Alterations

by Felicity Buirski

This re-mastered award-winning album was first released in 1987 to much critical acclaim and is the first instalment of four that will comprise "Wayfarer" - One woman's journey from Illusion to Light. A Hero's Journey for our time.
Genre: Folk: Singer/Songwriter
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Dream On
5:52 $0.99
2. Marilyn
3:43 $0.99
3. Heartless Hotel
7:14 $0.99
4. Travelling Home
5:50 $0.99
5. I Am the Lord
3:44 $0.99
6. Rumpelstiltskin
5:53 $0.99
7. Executioner's Song
6:46 $0.99
8. Let There Be Light
3:57 $0.99
9. Come to Me Darling
6:06 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
In my early twenties, I kept making notes with the intention of writing a book proving the non-existence of God. After a difficult childhood, as many of my generation had experienced, with parents whose souls and psyches had been traumatized by the ripple effect of two world wars and more, and with my father dying when I was thirteen, I had slowly, almost imperceptibly, become an atheist. I had lost all sight and hope of a benevolent creator God whom I had been taught something about as a child. I had even blocked the memory of a near death experience I had on New Year's Eve when I was 21, when having been assaulted by a man, who was drunk and angry, I entered the often spoken about tunnel of death and was told that I had to return to my body because I had not completed my life's mission.

In June of 1979 after returning to London from a modeling assignment in Mexico, where I had found it difficult to breathe unless parachuting up from the beach attached to a motorboat and raising my adrenalin, I felt I wanted to ‘overthrow my life’. I had taken the book "Death of a Lady’s Man" with me to Trinidad and Tobago a little earlier, where my anxiety and breathing difficulties, which had been coming on for a couple of years, exacerbated. I was the Black & White Whisky Girl having made a commercial for them, and was invited to Trinidad to make a few promotional appearances as such. The book had been given to me in 1978 in Los Angeles, by my friend Leonard Cohen who wrote it, and I was particularly drawn to his poem "The Asthmatic", which kept ending sentences with….'you cannot breathe'. His art became my life with prophetic accuracy.

The day I arrived in Mexico I immediately sunbathed for far too long, trying to get a quick tan ready to model swimwear for a catalogue. In the middle of the night I awoke feeling very strange and looking in the bathroom mirror, to my horror, I had transmogrified into something similar to Kafka’s beetle in "Metamorphosis". My eyes were completely puffed and swollen and I resembled an exotic beast rather than the swimwear ‘beauty’ the photographer had booked.
I was mortified knowing I would be holding up the shoot but in the morning I learned, somewhat to my relief, that one of the other models had done exactly the same as me and so we both had to ‘relax and recover’ for a few days before shooting could begin.

Rather than relax my life and I began to unravel on that trip and I stayed much longer than planned, visiting the beautiful Jelapa and sharing a beach hut hotel room with two Iguanas I named Fred and Alice, for some reason. Some might call it a nervous breakdown but in retrospect I began to see it as my nervous breakthrough.

My father was a music teacher by the time I was born and my mother, who was almost thirty years younger than him, had buried herself alive in poetry books as a child. As a young woman her voice had been trained by a famous teacher in Kensington, before giving birth to four children, the first of whom was tragically stillborn. So the mosaic of music and poetry was the sustaining backdrop to the psychological and emotional mayhem in which I found myself……. “The wars that rage without and within. Parents grappling with inherited sin. Victims of victims who set up home. Turning love in to war in the family zone." From my song "Got to get it out of my Mind."

So it was not really surprising that poetry and music would become the vehicle of expression for my own journey through trauma to recovery and beyond.

Back in London, a few weeks after my return from Mexico, I spent two long nights grappling with a voice in my head that sounded remarkably like one would imagine Satan to sound, seducing me into the nihilistic suggestion of ending my life once and for all: “Why don’t you just die, there is no God and life is pointless. If you surrender to me I will help you die.” The voice was sweet and pink and tempting but on the third consecutive night I decided to try and fight it. I thought, “There must be something I can think of to combat and overcome this negative inner voice.” And then it occurred to me, that even if there is no God and life is pointless, if I can help one other person overcome their pain for just one second then my life will not be in vain. And with that thought, the anxiety and ‘Satan’ left me and for the first time in months I slept like a baby. Empathy and compassion had been born in my heart.

The next day my anxiety resumed and even escalated but a friend of mine took me boldly by the hand and led me out into the garden. She had ‘found’ God a few years earlier and whilst I was in Mexico, had felt directed in a dream to come to London from Holland and wait for my return. She picked a blade of grass and held it close to me saying: “Show me a person who can make that.” I was crying and felt there was no hope for me. I wanted to call someone and get myself admitted. I had wandered so far from the Garden of Eden that I truly felt there was no way back for me. My transgressions were too great, too selfish, too embarrassing to ever be able to look myself in the mirror again without the veil of self-delusion.

My friend went back into the house and left me to contemplate her question. I got up from the grass where I had collapsed in a heap and believing myself to be alone, looked up into the sky and saw... God. To quote from one of my songs "Let it be Known" that I hope to record for my fourth album "Home" :

And it wasn’t face to face
But it sort of was by grace
And it wasn’t eye to eye
But I saw Glory in the sky.
I felt the power in God’s hand
Beheld the tying of the band
Saw the angels rise and fall
Responding quickly to the call for love
And I saw Love I saw Love
I saw Love

I felt its all-embracing power
Was given insight into flowers
And animals and everything that’s made
By a hand so deft and tender
It can fashion even grass into a blade.

Let it be known that Love will bind us
With its soft and silken thread
But be strong enough to catch us
Should we slip in to the pit of dread.

So over the next few weeks I asked God what I could do to serve; should I become a missionary or train as a nurse or both? And God said no, see that guitar in the corner of the room that you bought but never learnt to play and have looked at with great ambivalence because of past wounds around music and your dad, pick it up and learn a few chords.

And so I did.

Below are some reviews of live gigs and this debut album:

Reviewer Jill Berntsson Local Radio

Felicity Buirski Glastonbury Concert, 27/11/2008

Singer/songwriter Felicity Buirski stunned her audience at her recent concert. Her voice had both a purity of tone and a rich resonating power, which soared through the hall and held her captivated audience spellbound for the duration. She accompanies herself effortlessly on acoustic guitar, which adds to the sense of purity and truth she imparts. In addition she achieves drama and power with impassioned strumming in places, which underlines the potency of her work.

17 year old Charlie Buirski, opened with a well-received debut performance of his composition ‘Fake Love’. Then with immense presence Felicity took the stage. What a performance! Her well-articulated and intelligent lyrics gave a sense of hope and inspiration for humanity. It is not just songs for singing’s sake. She has a clear message to impart, born from her life journey “from illusion to light”. With disarming honesty she examines life’s illusions and with gritty self-awareness imparts the realism and wisdom she has gained on her way.

‘Up Where the Eagles Fly’, had a sonorous quality, which suggests it should become an iconic environmental anthem.

Her poetry presentation was such that people were mesmerised by the force of her oratory. Felicity is a woman giving back to the world, speaking from a place of maturity in gratitude for the lessons she has learnt through life and from God.

The albums tell of a journey into self-awareness, which resonates with all our lives.
Visit her website. www.felicitybuirski.com

The following reviews were in response to the release of ‘Repairs & Alterations’:

City Limits:
Felicity Buirski: Donmar Warehouse.
Startling newcomer to the acoustic singer-songwriter scene.
Melancholy and mystery combine in some finely played and interestingly observed tunes. Difficult to describe. It's best that you visit this venue tonight or dig out the new album on Run River Records.

Weekend Telegraph ~ Colin Randall
Felicity Buirski:
International model turned moody singer-songwriter promoted ambitiously as "Suzanne Vega for grown-ups" starts a series of weekly late-night appearances at the Donmar Warehouse Theatre. Covent Garden, London WC2, on Friday.

City Limits ~ Andrew Vaughan:
Felicity Buirski. No comparisons, no labels and certainly no pigeon holes. One time actress, model and writer, Felicity is putting all her eggs into one musical basket. Singer and writer seems the most apt description for her style-the songs are deeply personal, and challenge with their obliqueness. Why shouldn't the listeners be forced to do a little work sometimes? Melancholy is the name of this acoustic music game. The songs on Repairs & Alterations (Run River) ask more questions than they answer. The instrumental backing is mellow in this show, deftly underlining the leading players, Felicity's voice, and the stark acoustic guitar. As a singer Felicity is growing into her songs; though a tad twee at times, there is still an underlying strength and worldly (and maybe otherworldly) wisdom at play. Too much description already, as some records and performers need to be savoured in the form intended, not replayed by journalists. Catch Buirski at the Donmar on Friday night. Drunks please keep away, but if you're interested in a little mystery, a collection of class songs and plenty of articulated intelligence could make this the gig of the year.

Folk Roots ~ Tony May

Surprising how a promo album's bio-material can crush or create interest. The handout with this was distinctly groan and grin inducing. Groans at the news that Felicity was an international model, and a cynical grin at the "Suzanne Vega for grown-ups" claim. "I'll get'em for this!" I react.

Well, the album's a kind of vinyl confessional from one both qualified and prepared to blow away publicly the lies, false dreams and artificialities she must have encountered a thousand times. In places, Repairs & Alterations, as the title suggests, is virtually a plea for deliverance, a violent lashing-out against destructive illusions, a search for soundness and rest.

As such the material is very dramatic, pain-filled and touching. Felicity sings in a very breathy, half-talking manner which conveys her type of material ideally, and is not an easily mastered style. Her superb songs include yet another to continue the Marilyn Monroe fascination, probably inevitable given the album's subject matter, and again the Monroe tragedy has inspired a great song, with a message we'll probably never learn while bodies mean big bucks for some parasite.

The songs are given a most exquisitely sympathetic, gentle treatment by a band of music makers unknown to me but maestros all. And the Vega comparison? I loved Suzanne's work when she was a track on Fast Folk compilation albums, but Felicity's alongside her and I think the razor's even sharper, especially as some Melanie-sounding mannerisms are incorporated into the Buirski consciousness.

A very great album, which spills the beans courtesy of one who knows and can communicate the truth.

What's On ~ Mike Davies:
Felicity Buirski ~ Repairs & Alterations (Run River). Not all former models turn to disco as this frequently haunting and always compelling voyage into self-discovery, relationships and the assessment of the fame-life proves. Buirski has a beautiful, fragile yet firm voice and her songs cut sharply with a knife that spares little and a poetic line that is often quite stunningly beautiful. As a portrait of one person's self re-evaluation there can be few parallels as powerful or penetrating but even as pure song the likes of the impish 'Rumpelstiltskin', the Monroe inspired 'Marilyn' and the painful 'Heartless Hotel' and 'Come To Me Darling' bear comparisons with longer established performers. A real discovery of an album and hopefully just the first of many.

The Independent ~
Few ageing models at the crossroads take up an acoustic guitar and head for the folk clubs. Their agents would normally be suggesting Dallas or Dynasty as a sounder career move, but that was before the current coffee table boom in female singer-songwriter melancholia. Ex-glamour queen Felicity Buirski (above) is the latest artist to take the Vega/Chapman road to acoustic stardom, an increasingly sizeable corner of the music industry where subtlety and writerly intelligence - even political commitment - are no impediment to commercial viability. Buirski's sound is sparser than her fellow travellers, less pop-orientated and probably riskier to market were it not for the ground-breaking work of Tracy Chapman, Tanita Tikaram and the others. Felicity Buirski plays a one-off set based on her Repairs And Alterations album (Run River) on Thur, Street Of Lucky Stars, The White Horse, 154 Fleet Rd NW3.

Folk Roots ~ John Tobler
Felicity Buirski
Street Of Lucky Stars, White Horse, Belsize Park
What is clear is that Felicity Buirski is one of the most gripping performers to grace popular music in some years - a less stylised Mary Coughlan, an Armatrading who admits that her songs are written from (often harrowing) personal experiences in affairs of the heart. Perhaps a past which incorporated being a Page Three Girl (true) qualifies Felicity to put across her frequently desperation-filled songs with such conviction. If Simon Jones (Singles, F.R. 63) had experienced Heartless Hotel in the White Horse, he might be less dismissive of a song which is pretty damn substantial, and not much like Magna Carta at all.

Her Repairs & Alterations album (Run River) seems to be attracting new converts consistently, but slowly, and it seems unlikely that anyone under 25 who has avoided a crisis du coeur will find much to entrance them. The rest of us may find some uncomfortably universal scenarios in both lyrics and performance - Nothing To Declare and Dream On, both from the album, soon quietened an initially fidgety audience, which was just as well, as we're talking very acoustic - no P.A., not even a vocal mic, and you can't expect a woman to shout her shortcomings across a pub basement.

There were several songs which aren't on the album, like Blow The Dandelion (he loves me, he loves me not…) and the second encore, Blow The Bridges (a bizarre coincidence title-wise).

Felicity's finger-picked acoustic is her sole backing, increasing the spine-chilling vulnerability - let's hope that she's an accomplished actress, because we don't want life to imitate art. Recent converts, she told me, include Leonard Cohen and Jennifer Warnes - Warnes is talking about recording Felicity's stuff.

This is no ordinary talent, but perhaps for refined tastes rather than for the Smash Hits generation. At the moment gigs are infrequent, so keeping your eyes peeled could be important.

Financial Times ~ Antony Thorncroft
Pop: Yesterday and today
…The young soloists were either ranters, like Jimmy Woodland or poetic like Andrew Cunningham. By far the best was Felicity Buirski, who in spite of being billed as "the first authentic voice of the post feminist generation" managed to cap Leonard Cohen's throw away delivery and indiscreet lyrics with a voice of purifying power. Songs about "hopeless situations in heartless hotels" rarely feature in Bananarama's repertoire and if you enjoy hearing such confessions from a tall, striking, confident performer, with a famous back (Ms Buirski in another life models Sure deodorant and gets a "tick" for it), here is paradise. She seems certain to progress even if New Acoustic falters.

The Hollywood Reporter ~ Jeffrey Ressner
Felicity Buirski - "Repairs & Alterations" - This British import, available on Run River Records, is making waves overseas for its romantic tone and minimalist arrangements. Deeply introspective, it's a dark, dreamy work highlighted by Buirski's evocative vocals and vivid lyrics about personal sacrifices and love's labor lost. Most affecting cuts include "Come To Me Darling" and "Heartless Hotel".

Musician (New York). ~ Scott Isler
No More Poses
Felicity Buirski
The melodies are simple. Beguiling. The arrangements (mostly drummerless) are relaxing, intriguing. The vocals, solo and overdubbed, are charming, reassuring. The lyrics rip your emotions to shreds with razor-sharp dissections of shattered egos and stillborn relationships.

That's Felicity Buirski's debut album, Repairs & Alterations - and if she didn't invent the above strategy, she's made it her own. Her painfully honest songs work both as art and confession.

"It's not for the faint-hearted" Buirski admits. "It was almost like an exorcism: The experience of making that album was kind of freeing me from each situation. I wanted my album to be relentless;;; my life was relentless."

The British singer/songwriter has a varied background. When she was just out of her teens she turned from journalism to modelling, a career she now dismisses: "That definitely was another life."

Music was always an interest, though. A teenage obsession with Leonard Cohen - what Buirski calls transference from her own father, a musician who'd died a few years earlier - led her to pick up acoustic guitar. Cohen's influence is obvious in Buirski's finger-picking as well as her songs' emotional rawness. But the singer, who's now quite friendly with Cohen, states, "I'm not sure that if Leonard had never existed [my music] wouldn't have come out anyway."

In late 1985 Buirski recorded some demos of her songs. Fred Underhill, a British-based American who was starting up Run River Records, heard them and offered to put out an album. "Being the kind of person I was," Buirski says, "I took what was offered." She adds, however, "I liked the word 'integrity', something that has escaped my own life for most of it."

Repairs & Alterations was released in England at the end of 1987. Run river is now setting up U.S. distribution, which should get the album the wider audience it deserves. Meanwhile, Buirski has done the occasional odd tour - more likely in Italy than England - and is now rehearsing for a second album. She doesn't mind watching her career unfold one step at a time. "If it takes a little bit longer that way, that's okay by me. I was always in a hurry before."

POP Weekender ~ Niall Donnelly
Felicity's ready for big break at last!
Singer-songwriter Felicity Buirski (pictured) has arrived in the music business by an unusual route.
Her varied career included being a journalist while still in her teens, then launching an arts magazine and next trying her hand at acting, starring alongside Joan Collins in The Bitch. {actually it was The Stud}.

A spell of modelling also followed before a chance meeting with Leonard Cohen in a Hollywood hotel inspired her to concentrate on her singing career. Her first album, called "Repairs And Alterations" was released on London-based Indie label Run River Records, to tremendous critical acclaim.

Successful dates in Britain and Europe followed and now she would seem to be on the verge of a major breakthrough.
"Repairs And Alterations" is a low-key collection of songs in the Suzanne Vega mould, performed impeccably by Felicity and her band.

Despite a varied career to date, English rose Felicity has always maintained an interest in music - her father was a virtuoso pianist and her mother was a concert hall singer.

And her memories of family holidays are of being pressured into taking part in talent contests.
She says: I always felt really scared and I always came second to some virtuoso violinist aged about seven. I think I sang Adam Faith's 'What Do You Want?".

"My sister and I had an act while we were still at school. Just after my father died we played the folk clubs and called ourselves dreadful names like Pride and Prejudice and The Honeys, because my mother said we had voices like honey!."

Coffey's Alternative News File ~ Pete Coffey
Run River is an interesting London-based nouveau-traditionalist label, recently formed by quiet American Fred Underhill (once associated with the Blues Project), singer-writer-guitarist of note Steve Tilston, and Michael Klein of the Heartbeat Sound recording studios……..By far the best release so far is the excellent 'Repairs & Alterations' (RRA 004) by one-time model, actress, journalist Felicity Buirski, a sort of cross between Suzanne Vega with conviction and Tanita Tikaram with energy. Intelligent and assured, Felicity writes and sings songs of substance, like 'Dream On', 'Heartless Hotel'. 'Executioner's Song' and the upcoming single, 'Let There Be Light', all with an involvement and conviction which often escapes others of her ilk. I have a feeling Felicity will take herself and Run River to the top.

Evening Gazette -
Run River Records.
……Whilst former model Felicity Buirski has all the looks which should have helped her clamber on the female singer and/or songwriter bandwagon her choice of label and material probably indicates she wants to be around long enough to establish a genuine reputation rather than a hyped one.

It's hardly surprising Leonard Cohen rates her - there are several occasions when she's torn between being a ringer for him vocally and a disciple of Dory Previn.

Her material is frequently self analytical - even when ostensibly projecting it at others ("Marilyn," and "Heartless Hotel") and rarely misses the mark (though "Rumpelstiltskin" seems rather out of place).

Melody Maker ~ Dave Jennings
Felicity Buirski
Repairs & Alterations
Run River
The voice is deep and refined, a low, precise croon over a fluttering acoustic guitar. The sentiments are worldly and weary, as though the singer has spent a lot of time suffering in comfort. All of the songs are verbose narratives, massively detailed and self-conscious. Buirski's at her best when she's brooding. On this whispering, muttering LP, she repeatedly slips into speech in mid-line like some rich, apolitical sister of Michelle Shocked.

"Heartless Hotel" is a gripping tale, precisely dissecting the small cruelties involved in a loveless affair. But Buirski's attempts at bouncy pop are contrived and maddening, though they do reveal why she's big in Italy. "Marilyn" and "Rumpelstiltskin" are a nightmarish acoustic Eurobeat, like a bookish Sabrina.

The simmering resentment of "Executioner's Song" suits her better, and "Come To Me Darling" is successfully seductive. Buirski blends ennui and elegance, languor and careful "class". If Bryan Ferry hears this record, he may feel that he's found his true soul mate at last.

Q Magazine ~ John Tobler
Felicity Buirski
Repairs & Alterations
Run River RRA 004/-RRACD04 Dist: Celtic Music).
The excuse for reviewing this neglected masterpiece by a little known British chanteuse is that Run River now has a new distributor (as above) and that the work of this female British Leonard Cohen (no exaggeration) may now reach the vast international audience it deserves as it's finally on CD. For an ex-Page 3 girl (really) to have such depth - heartfelt lyrics about failed love affairs, mostly - is miraculous, and the seven minutes plus "Heartless Hotel" is just one highlight of an album which is constantly surprising. With her Edith Piaf-like delivery, Buirski is unlikely to appeal to impatient teenagers, but devotees of Jennifer Warnes could worship at her feet, and she could easily reach Suzanne Vega's audience if they can bear the desperate intensity of such heavy duty original songs. Wrist-slashing stuff, but with lighter moments, such as the fairytale-ish ''Rumpelstiltskin''and the Pamela Bordes type fable, 'Travelling Home'.

Pirate A&R Rock Scene Report by JHA 385
Felicity Buirski, whose "Let There Be Light" cut, from her debut record LP "Repairs & Alterations" is getting some airplay here in Los Angeles on Deidre O'Donahue's show on KCRW-FM and "Folk Scene"" on KPFK=FM, did her first live performance upstairs in the showcase room at The Palace, Friday night September 15th, to an overflowing crowd of professionals and well-wishers. Felicity is a fabulous and wonderfully gifted woman, an x-fashion model turned singer-songwriter, who writes exquisite poetry, full bodied and reaching melodies, and sings with purity, force and conviction. Interestingly she uses a lapel microphone which aids her movement and the intimacy of her tone. She talks of her relationship with God the way lesser souls might talk of their obsessions with lust and desire and she claims to vegetarianism and consideration for the plight of others in a way that leaves no doubt of her faith nor purpose. She is an artistic force to be reckoned with in the near future.

Highly Strung ~ Pete Feenstra
Felicity Buirski
"Repairs & Alterations"
(Run River Records RRA 004)
Run River records are one of an increasing number of labels who have been actively involved in the return to prominence of the singer/songwriter - with the emphasis squarely on the former.

This innovative label now brings us the remarkable FELICITY BUIRSKI whose album, thoughtfully titled "Repairs & Alterations" demands several repeated plays.

"Repairs & Alterations take us back to the feel and ambience create[d] years ago by Nico, whilst the biting lyrics come close to the latter day Marianne Faithfull.

However, the most significant influence on Ms Buirski's work is undoubtedly Laurie Anderson. Lyrics which are half spoken and half sung are brought to life by some exaggerated but very effective diction. Where the acidity of an adjective wants to be stressed Felicity will dwell on a couple of consonants. Delicately played acoustic oriented music acts as a counterpoint to tales of hope, despair, resignation all laced with a analytical feminist edge.

This is the sort of album that holds your attention for three quarters of the set, before a lack of dynamics ultimately contrive to lessen its impact. The songs themselves are built around a loose working theme which silently cries "This is life, this is the situation, and don't kid yourself."

Whether that piece of underlying philosophy applies only to women I don't know, but on tracks like the "Rumpelstiltskin" and the single "Let There Be Light", Felicity plays the role of an ironic narrator who's tone becomes more bitter as the detached view switches to the first person singular in the impressive "Heartbreak Hotel". [Heartless Hotel] ".

With lines like"…I also thought my dreams were my own, not dished out like drugs to zombies and clones," Felicity Buirski hits you hard with her caustic poetry.

Given a producer who would require just a shade more adventure in the tempo's and dash more vigour in the music, Felicity Buirski could go on to take her original style beyond her adoring Italian fans, and into the big concert hall.

The Los Angeles Reader's Guide to Entertainment Events, It's Not Misanthropy, It's Felicity by Chris Morris.
POP AUDIENCES generally seem to have an antipathy to hard-boiled female singer-songwriters - not that many exist to begin with. But everybody wants a woman with a guitar to be "sensitive", "vulnerable". Even someone as supposedly uncompromising as Tracy Chapman should be enough of a shrinking violet to head for the hills when she sees a writer with a notebook heading in her direction. Ah, sweet womanhood.

THAT'S WHY THERE'S something particularly original about the music of British singer-songwriter Felicity Buirski. Her steely songs about the war between the sexes have a backbone cast in a foundry; the confidence and toughness of her point of view are disquieting and forceful. She practically draws a line in the dirt with her toe and dares the listener to step over it. Some pause daintily at that line, in either confusion or apprehension --Steve Hochman's Times review of Buirski's recent show at McCabe's was a virtual study in critical uncertainty.

Buirski is still a relatively unknown commodity in this country. So far, her only release is a single solo album, Repairs & Alterations, on the obscure British indie label Run River Records. But KCRW has been giving the album steady play, creating something of a local cult following for the singer.

Her McCabe's concert sold out, and she drew a healthy showing at the Rhino Records in-store performance I attended last Thursday.

Both on record and on stage, Buirski plays hardball. Her songs evince no patience with feminine self-delusion or masculine manipulation or deceit, and she lets her anger burn with magnesium brightness. One might be tempted to use the term "feminist" to describe her music (others have), but the word, I think, has connotation of a narrowly circumscribed audience that I believe Buirski would ultimately reject. She sings to both sides of the issue, and her work is clearly intended as a personal purgative, and not as some blunt political broadside.

A look at what might be considered Buirski's signature song, "Dream On," is instructive. It's the first number on Repairs & Alterations , it opened her brief Rhino stint, and a live version appears on her current demo tape. Over a delicate melody, it begins:

What do you want, little girl
And what are you expecting from this world
Are you dreaming of a handsome young prince
On a white steed, helping a girl in need
Or do you see your name in lights
On your dark nights
Admired and adored?

Dream, dream away little girl
'Cause you've not got a hope in hell
Don't you dare try to crawl out of your shell

Just as you're ready to give up on this rather curdled point of view, Buirski continues:

I can hear you saying, "She's just bitter and tired
That Cupid's arrow missed and twisted her inside."
Well you may be right, but then you may be wrong
And if you're wrong, you'd miss the rest of my song.

How disarming. Buirski isn't merely interested in dispensing some misanthropic venom here; the larger point of her song - and most of her work, actually - is to examine and dismantle the traps of illusion into which women so blindly and catastrophically waltz. As a result of her self-aware approach, she emerges as an interesting writer - beaten, wised-up, but never simply vengeful.

BUIRSKI'S MUSIC has often been compared to Leonard Cohen's, and both her songs' melodic directness and her weary alto delivery make the comparisons easy. But she obviously isn't just tossing on Cohen's mantle of romantic exhaustion. Her own depictions of crippling love affairs amid the decay of the latter-day jet-set are clearly derived from her own back-ground as a fashion model of some repute and as an actress in B-pictures (her bio notes that she had a role opposite Joan Collins in the infamous The Bitch) [The Stud actually]. She also refuses to cleave slavishly to Cohen's vocal style - her parched, almost conversational, singing often rises into a clear, tremulous soprano.

She applies her intelligence and obvious technical ability to a generally impressive body of material on Repairs & Alterations. The most crushing numbers relate to disasters involving married men. "Heartless Hotel" about parting with a married lover, is a disquietingly focused number in which Buirski takes apart the self-serving and defensive protests of her departing paramour with the skill of a surgeon wielding a scalpel ("Look, just because I use the word whore/You don't have to say I look…Madonnaesque"). Likewise, "Travelling Home" reflects the fatigue of a woman who has spanned the globe on her illicit rendezvous, only to find her erstwhile partners longing for their marital bedsides.

The clash of the sexes is seen metaphorically in "Rumpelstiltskin" a pointedly witty reading of the Grimm story in which the tale's haplessly innocent heroine in pinioned between two covetous men - the king, who longs for straw spun into gold, and the titular gnome, who desires her firstborn child. Less successful is "Marilyn", one of the few times Buirski actually stumbles; no one really needs another depiction of Marilyn Monroe as the despoiled victim of Hollywood concupiscence, a literary-artistic cliché of twenty years standing.

Buirski is capable of far greater ambition in her work. In "Aha (I Am the Lord)," she takes the point of view of God Himself - a risky venture previously attempted by such distinguished writers as Randy Newman (in "God's Song") and Elvis Costello (in "God's Comic"). Buirski's God is the one we might expect to encounter in her uncertain universe - an unhappy deity, so dismayed by the lovelessness of the world that He gives us Jesus out of near-desperation. (God reappears in Buirski's unrecorded "More Than A Lover". The song is, appropriately, a love song.)

BUIRSKI PERFORMED many of these songs, and other new work, at Rhino Records, both solo and accompanied by a pair of violinists. It was a powerful and somewhat jarring set, unusually devoid of the kind of often bogus "warmth" one has come to expect from an intimate performance by a singer-songwriter. But, after one got used to the severity of the presentation, one began to appreciate the cutting depth of her material, the precision of her vocal delivery, and the biting, hard-nosed insight that is the core of her work. She is a bracing and intransigent talent who demands much from her auditors, but the returns justify your rapt attention. We will hear more from Felicity Buirski!

Buirski: Intense Anguish at McCabe's by STEVE HOCHMAN
Want to add a little intensity to your life?

Try an evening with Felicity Buirski, who played McCabe's on Friday night. She's one of the latest buzzes on the female-confessional-singer-songwriter front.

How's a title like "Internal Bleeding" grab you? Or any of a darkened boudoir full of songs - in both first and third person - about women who have allowed themselves to be used by men and grew to hate themselves (and the men) for it. Not exactly first-date entertainment.

Most of the ilk tend to comfort listeners with the knowledge that the pain is universal. Buirski makes people decidedly uncomfortable in the interest of existential nurturing.

The experience was part empathy, part catharsis and part emotional voyeurism - all very comparable to Buirski's obvious mentor Leonard Cohen. But where Cohen's dry, stately delivery keeps his anguish earthbound, Buirski's forceful, husky voice - complemented by two violinists - sometimes sends it spinning into the ionosphere. Which is both good (because you have to go chase after it) and bad (because some people won't bother).

Hounslow and Brentford STAR
FELICITY BUIRSKI "Repairs & Alterations" Run River Records
The renaissance of the singer-songwriter continues with Felicity Buirski leading from the front.
"Repairs & Alterations" finds Felicity's distinct vocal style wrapping itself around some ascerbic yet poetic images.

An extended piece titled "Heartbreak Hotel" [Heartless Hotel] relies typically on the power and imagery of the lyric, whilst the single "Let There Be Light" similarly adopts a wry look at the tortured soul.

Buirski further employs the use of overstated diction to add emphasis to her observation, whilst if anything forgetting about the musical dynamic. The result comes across something like a Laurie Anderson piece, without all the synth effects.

At the Folkstudio the great Felicity's dreams.

We signal the return to Rome of one of the best new voices of English song, that of Felicity Buirski, who returns in concert at the Folkstudio from Thursday to Saturday: dates not to be missed by those who love the songs of this writer.

Felicity Buirski ex-model and today fascinating singer-songwriter, who tells little stories, great dreams and adventures, true lives and wishes, with the simplicity and the strength of great authors, and live (maybe more than on the only album she has recorded until now) she succeeds in being involving and mysterious at the same time, focusing with much grace and strength the best elements of her music making.

· Felicity Buirski + Tylor Diorama Folk Club, 8.30pm, ring for prices. Ms Buirski is a very unique performer on the acoustic circuit, not being either too obviously a hippy nor a pained poet, her individualistic approach has stood her apart from the average woman-with-a-guitar and Joni-fixation. Having said that, Ms Buirski has recently completed one or two dates with Ms Mitchell. Ah well, maybe Felic has turned to Leonard Cohen for inspiration, and why not? Sonja Kristina's two brothers who act as backing band play a solo set first.

Friday January 12 8pm/$12.50/on sale Dec 29

McCabe's welcomes back (for her second appearance) this powerful English songwriter/vocalist, championed by Leonard Cohen and Jennifer Warnes whose debut album is available on Run River Records. Hear her also on KCRW-FM (89.9) Wed. Jan 10 at 11.00am

McCabe's welcomes back for her second appearance powerful vocalist and brilliant songwriter, (compared to Leonard Cohen) Britain's Felicity Buirski.

Colin Cooper
(Run River)
Coming out of the Run River label, this album has caught me by surprise. Operating in the folk/rock area, if we've got to label things, it's a stunner. Haven't heard such a captivating voice in a long time. Articulate, eloquent and bright lyrics combine with a largely acoustic guitar approach. Backing Buirski are musicians like Bill Lovelady, Mike Hug and others. Is album going to reach a wider British audience I wonder? Already Buirski seems to be picking up rave reviews in Europe and the States. DREAM ON really makes an immediate impact with its harmonies, as does HEARTLESS HOTEL. Really an album for those who've maybe been fans of the more accessible Joni Mitchell, though Buirski has a better voice. This is destined for an extended run on my turntable.

Felicity Buirski

The beautiful English ex-model, Felicity Buirski, is well known to her fans in Rome, a city in which she has performed several times.
Her music, which is deeply rooted in folk, but modified by more modern and catchy melodies, is given further substance by her considerable and undoubted vocal ability, which, slowly but surely, has brought her to the attention of those that love good music. Her records, which are both rare and difficult to find, are deep and enjoyable in the extreme, as indeed are her concerts.

Folkstudio, via Frangipane 42, tel 4871063. Concert starts at 21.30, entrance 20,000 lire, annual membership 5,000 lire.

Folk Felicity Buirski and Peter Knight.
Beautifully crafted songs, accompanied by imaginative fiddle and keyboard playing, Red Lion, Birmingham (0121 444 7258).

Singer helped by Cohen
Photo Caption: Pearl's a singer; Felicity is set to open her heart to music fans across the world.

You may not have heard of singer/songwriter Felicity Buirski yet, but she certainly made a favourable impression on country blues singer Leonard Cohen.
The former Sure deodorant advert girl fell in love with his music when she was just 12 years old and their paths later crossed when Felicity was in her 20's, and at the peak of her modelling career.

She said: "I was at one of his aftershow parties, and really wanted him to notice me. I thought I would stand a better chance if I scrubbed off all my make-up, so I went to the ladies and took the whole lot off.
"After a short while Leonard sidled up to me and said, 'God you're beautiful, God you're wonderful.'
"Unfortunately we didn't get much of a chance to chat because the man who I was with whisked me off into the night.
"A couple of years later I was staying in the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, where many famous people have lived, and died from excesses, when I bumped into Leonard by the poolside.
"He lit my cigarette, rubbed suntan lotion into my back and invited me to a bungalow where he was staying."

They later met up and lay in each other's arms drinking pear brandy and eating figs.
Felicity said: "We never ended up together, but we were soulmates. The first time I heard his song Love Calls You By Your Name it was as if someone else knew my pain.
"I know a lot of people find his music quite depressing but I have always found him to be someone who stops you slashing your wrists."

As their friendship developed Leonard, who is famed for songs such as So Long Marianne, Sisters of Mercy and Bird on the Wire, played Felicity's music to everyone.
"He kept saying things like, 'My god you are a genius.' "I found it delicious," said Felicity.
Felicity, who had by now quit her modelling career, started developing a cult following in LA.

She almost got signed to Island Records.

She said: "I always felt like I was ignored by my father, who died when I was 13.
"I think that's why I became a model, because I could use my looks to draw attention to myself."

Now, having recovered from her youthful traumas, she has written a new album entitled Interior Design.

Her voice is a cross between Joan Armatrading and Tanita Tikaram, and her lyrics are as passionate as those found on any Suzanne Vega album, but she is still quite introspective.

She said: "I suppose I didn't want to become too famous because I didn't feel ready to have areas of my life probed.
"It was like a self-protection thing. Now of course I realise there is a time for everything. It's as though I have been standing on the seashore waiting for the tide to come in."

Felicity will be performing with Peter Knight of Steeleye Span at Kitson Hall, Kitson Road in Barnes on Saturday, February 16 at 7.45pm. Tickets cost £7.50. Call 020 83921561.

A particularly touching response to my first album came from a man called Paul Dover who sent me a little illustrated booklet he had put together of an interview I did with Radio Trent DJ, John Shaw on the programme "Here Be Dragons". John certainly put me on the map in Nottingham by including my songs on his Sunday night shows and Paul printed this booklet apparently and distributed it door to door in his area. Extraordinary and touching. He headed the leaflet BUIRSKI BEAT and said:

Every home should contain a Felicity Buirski album. If yours does not then it speaks more of your lack of taste than her talent. Fortunately for his reputation, John Shaw owns a copy. Not content with such a sublime achievement, he introduced said album to an enraptured Radio Trent/Leicester Sound audience.

This led indirectly to the Jangle Club booking Felicity and her group to appear at the Old Vic in Nottingham on 1st March 1988 - a date destined to be taught to wondering school children throughout the generations. Seeing his chance the immaculate Shaw dragged Felicity into Trent Towers for an interview which was broadcast on 6th March 1988. Now gentle reader continue.

Dear John Shaw, who has now departed this world, described my voice on my record as a delicate balance between warmth and bitterness and went on to tell his listeners:
"What is clear though is that she's a singer of considerable talent and a writer of immense promise".
After playing a cut down single version of Heartless Hotel John said: "That's "Heartless Hotel" and when she did that live last Tuesday it really made the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. That was likely to be one of the live highlights of the year, I think, Felicity Buirski doing "Heartless Hotel" at the Old Vic. In a way I have to apologise for the interview because I was so much in awe of the lady when she came in that I didn't really relax at all and I never really got going. That's why it was a little bit shorter than I anticipated but next time I'll get my professional boots back on and get into a proper conversation with the lady because I think she's got an awful lot to say and I can't wait to hear her next album. The other thing is, I suspect the next time she comes round she might be playing somewhere a great deal bigger than the Old Vic unless it's in the very near future, of course, because it will only take something like Wogan or Aspel to pick up on her because she looks terrific and she can speak well and she can sing brilliantly and a couple of appearances on television, there's going to be no stopping her, particularly with an album as good as this, beautifully produced too".

Paul Dover wet on to write:

"As for the album itself, Suzanne Vega is the name that everybody will use, but "Repairs & Alterations" needs no comparison to justify itself. Bedsitter images is another way to describe songs that are semi-autobiographical narratives accompanied by acoustic guitar. But once you discover the caress of the sweetest music on earth and hear for yourself the careless literacy of the lyrics, you'll realise that this is music which transcends artificial categories. Felicity's voice is gentle but reinforced with steel, it soars into the ether then swoops down into the cadences of conversation, uninhibited by the words it expresses which sound as natural as thoughts spoken aloud.

Perhaps the most representative tracks are "Heartless Hotel" and "Executioner's Song" , tunes tinged with disappointment as lovers prove disloyal and dreams are destroyed. The pain of the situation is emphasised by the bleak simplicity of the instrumental arrangement, especially the sparse percussion. "Rumpelstiltskin" on the other hand is a folk story in which Felicity, with precocious timing, plays with her words as the tale unfolds.

In brief "Repairs & Alterations" is a wonderful record, one of the finest solo debuts of which I know. Prove to your friends that you are not the concept by which we measure our ignorance, buy it."



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